300,000 retailers could benefit from rates discount

A raft of measures designed to boost high streets and local economies has been announced by Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.

A number of measures to support businesses were announced by the Chancellor George Osborne in December's Autumn Statement. These included:

  • capping business rate rises at two per cent for 2014/15
  • extending the doubling of the small business rate relief until April 2015
  • 50 per cent business rates reduction for firms who take over premises that have been empty for at least a year.

The Government has now announced a further £415 million package designed to "back business, boost high streets, create jobs and help local economies thrive." This includes:

  • £1,000 business rates discount for 300,000 eligible retail businesses in premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or less, for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 tax years
  • £100 million of additional funding for infrastructure in designated enterprise zones, which will regenerate dormant sites for business use
  • a £15 million fund available for eight cities to establish university enterprise zones, which will boost innovation and tech start-up growth.

Announcing the measures, Eric Pickles said:

"Our fully-funded £1,000 retail discount will make a huge difference to 300,000 of the essential small shops and local traders we find in our town centres across the country."

The announcement comes two days after Prime Minister David Cameron told the Federation of Small Businesses said that business rates reform was on his agenda:

"I think we do need to look at longer term reform.

"It is not going to be easy because rates raise about £ 24 billion and I don't think there is any one solution that is going to make everybody happy.

"But I think we've got to start addressing the issue, particularly this issue about internet retailing and high-street retailing."